ATLANTA -- Braves catcher Javy Lopez will miss the first round of the playoffs and could be out for the entire postseason with a sprained left ankle.
While Lopez holds out hope of returning should Atlanta advance to the NL championship series, manager Bobby Cox isn't optimistic.
"It's not good," Cox said Saturday. "They say it's going to be 6-to-8 weeks."
Lopez received a high ankle sprain when New York's Robin Ventura crashed into him at the plate last Sunday. Paul Bako, hitting .212 with two homers and 15 RBIs, took over as the starter and will apparently keep the job through the playoffs.
The Braves' other catchers are Eddie Perez, who made his first start Saturday since early in the 1999 season, and Steve Torrealba, called up from the minors Tuesday merely as insurance.
Perez missed all but seven games in 2000 and most of this season after rotator cuff surgery. He was eager to see if his shoulder could hold up over nine innings.
"I don't know," he said before Saturday's game. "I guess we'll see tonight."
Lopez was hitting .267 with 17 homers and 66 RBIs at the time of his injury. He is a free agent at the end of the season.
"My feeling is if we go to the NLCS, I should be ready," said Lopez, who has a walking cast on his ankle. "I won't be 100 percent, but I should be ready to get out there."
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